#1 It's okay to take time off from blogging to write; everyone will still be there when you get back.
Back at the end of November, the idea for this book began to coalesce in my head and my muse was insisting I write, a lot. I took the month of December off to accommodate her and wrote at the furious pace of 5,000 words a week. I missed all my blogging friends and it did occur to me that no one would be there when I returned, but guess what? Everyone was still there and happy to see me when I got back. So if my muse comes
#2 Middles are hard.
Somewhere in the middle, my muse took a vacation and left me stranded with a story I wasn't sure I liked a whole lot. So here's what I did. I went back to the beginning, which I already knew I loved, and started reading/editing in the hopes of finding the magic again. It worked, and while the middle took me the longest, I finally got through it instead of abandoning the whole project.
#3 I am not a total pantser.
I start off that way. I'll get an idea, let it rattle around in my head for a while until it becomes a premise I can't stop thinking about. Then I write, often furiously. But at some point I need to connect the beginning to the distant end and for me that means outlining the next few chapters. Not all of them, because that would spoil the fun, but at least the next few so I know what my characters need to do and accomplish BEFORE they get to the end. And yes, I do know what the end looks like when I start, but it isn't always entirely clear. Like everything else, it will need some fleshing out but as long as I have the main points down, I can cut a path through the dark middle to the last chapter.
#4 Sometimes characters will take things into their own hands. Let them.
Towards the end of my tale, my characters go to Hell, literally. At first I thought they'd be going alone. Then I thought someone else would be going with them. But finally Gerald (a minor character, no less) spoke up, and insisting on going along, offering a very logical reason for doing so: he could be helpful, could he not? After all, he knew his way around Hell. And while it was definitely awesome that this happened, it was even more awesome discovering what he wasn't telling me. I won't say any more, but suffice to say that Gerald helped prompt an entire premise for a sequel to PEACE & FORGIVENESS. Thank-you, Gerald!
#5 I love this story even more than when I started.
Why you may ask? Well, I thought it was pretty kick-ass to begin with, but then when I got to the end and found ways to deepen the story, not to mention the awesome idea for a sequel, I was pretty darn psyched because now I have a shiny new toy just waiting for me to play with it and I can't wait.
So, what's this awesome tale about? Well, here's a rough draft of the query I've got worked out so far:
Dear Agent Extraordinaire:
Once upon a time an angel and a demon conspired to save an innocent. Tried and convicted, they and their accomplices are sentenced to the worst of fates: to live as mortals, doomed to repeat the same lives over and over again throughout history.
Peace Murray doesn’t remember this yet, although she does have some pretty strange dreams sometimes, especially the one about the drowned girls. It doesn’t help having a father who wishes she didn’t exist and an ache in her heart for the twin and a mother she never knew. All she wants is a normal life like her best friend, but when she returns home from camp, everything changes after she receives a mysterious text from a camp mate: ‘Do you know what you are?’
Peace has no idea what her friend means at first but before long she discovers there’s a reason she doesn’t have a normal life. She’s a demon.
Mal doesn’t remember who he was either but he knows one thing, he’s sick to death of his father’s drunken ravings about some supposed war between Heaven and Hell and his cryptic clues about the past. It all comes to a head when his father conjures up something impossible and directs Mal to The Marble Cemetery where he finds a vault with his and his twin’s name on it.
Escaping to St. Auburn’s Academy can’t come soon enough, but no sooner does he arrive than he meets Peace, the daughter of the Reverend who rents out rooms to boarders in this small town. Peace makes no secret of her dislike for him and Mal’s happy to return the favor – until he discovers the grave she frequents which just happens to have her name on it with some eerily familiar dates.
But the worst discovery is yet to come: they are both fated to die on their seventeenth birthday and begin the cycle again. Now the only way to solve the mystery of their existence and avert their fate is to work together to remember what they’ve forgotten.
My inspiration was Paradise Lost by John Milton and this is one of my favorite passages -
Beëlzebub to Satan: ‘There is a place
(If ancient and prophetic fame in Heav’n
Err not) another world, the happy seat
Of some new race called Man, about this time
To be created like to us, though less
In power and excellence, but favoured more
Of him who rules above us; so was his will
Pronounced among the gods, and by an oath
That shook Heav’n’s whole circumference, confirmed.
Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn
What creatures there inhabit, of what mould,
Or substance, how endued, and what their power,
And where their weakness, how attempted best,
By force or subtlety: though Heav’n be shut,
And Heav’n’s high Arbitrator sits secure
In his own strength, this place may lie exposed
The utmost border of his kingdom, left
To their defence [sic] who hold it; here perhaps
Some advantageous act may be achieved
By sudden onset, either with Hell fire
To waste his whole Creation, or possess
All as our own, and drive as we were driven,
The puny inhabitants, or if not drive,
Seduce them to our party, that their God
May prove their foe, and with repenting hand
Abolish his own works…’
Paradise Lost Book II, lines 345 -370